“Comment is free, but facts are sacred” – so famously wrote the (Manchester) Guardian editor and sometime Liberal MP CP Scott.
The words were penned for an article he wrote in 1921 to mark the paper’s centenary and are frequently quoted in debates about journalistic standards.
However, the full piece includes much more than the oft-repeated quote, including this passage from CP Scott on the role of a newspaper. Like the quote, it too has many contemporary echoes:
A newspaper has two sides to it. It is a business, like any other, and has to pay in the material sense in order to live. But it is much more than a business; it is an institution; it reflects and it influences the life of a whole community; it may affect even wider destinies. It is, in its way, an instrument of government. It plays on the minds and consciences of men. It may educate, stimulate, assist, or it may do the opposite. It has, therefore, a moral as well as a material existence, and its character and influence are in the main determined by the balance of these two forces. It may make profit or power its first object, or it may conceive itself as fulfilling a higher and more exacting function.